Surely one of the greatest gifts God offers to us all is the gift of faith. Some people choose to reject this offer and live in darkness, others accept, but fall away after a while, yet others find that their faith is the corner stone of their lives. Without our faith we couldn't experience the wonder of Christmas, the pain of Good Friday, the joy of the Resurrection and the mystery of the Eucharist.
We are all called to profess and to try to live our faith, but even today in many countries, Christians are persecuted, imprisoned and sometimes killed in defence of their faith. Sometimes however, you can find that faith comes into your life completely unexpected.
Many years ago my wife and I attended a Mass at Hazelwood Castle, near Tadcaster. At this time it was run by the Carmelite community as a retreat centre, but now I believe it has been turned into a hotel. After Mass we were having a cup of tea, when we were joined by the priest who had celebrated Mass for us. During the course of the conversation my wife mentioned to him that I was a convert. “That’s interesting,” he said, “But why did you want to become a Catholic?” “I didn't,” I replied, “I would describe myself as being a very reluctant convert. You see, I had this
feeling that I had to make a commitment, which I didn't want to do, but this feeling wouldn't go away and so eventually I gave in. I am pleased to say that I have made many ill-judged decisions in my life, but with God’s help, this has turned out to be one of the better ones.”
“That’s really interesting,” said the priest with a smile, “I think you could describe me as a reluctant priest. I didn't want to become a priest, but like you I also had this feeling that wouldn't go away. So here we are today! with you being a committed catholic and me a priest, something
neither of us wanted. It’s a funny old world isn't it?”
Imagine my surprise when recently I was listening to a program on radio 4 and a nun of over forty years was being interviewed and explaining how things had changed within the Catholic Church over this period of time. The interviewer then asked her why she had decided to become a nun all those years ago. I was amazed when she replied that she didn't want to become a nun at all, she just had this feeling that didn't go away and eventually she gave in. She continued by saying, “I don’t suppose anyone listening to me will understand what I mean by this.” Well one listener at least knew exactly what she meant.
One thing that life teaches us is to be less harsh with ourselves and with others. We need all the nurturing and loving kindness that life offers us, as we face the inevitable difficulties and struggles that are thrown at us.